New Delhi- With the air quality in smog-ridden New Delhi taking a perilous dive, asthmatic Bangladesh cricketers opted to stay indoors as they prepare for their upcoming World Cup match against Sri Lanka. The decision was driven by concerns over the hazardous air conditions, and the team’s coach, Chandika Hathurusinghe, made the call.
Both cricket squads had already called off one practice session in anticipation of Monday’s match. This fixture will see eliminated Bangladesh pitted against seventh-placed Sri Lanka, who maintain only the slimmest of chances to secure a spot in the last four of the tournament.
While a brief moment of sunlight broke through on Sunday afternoon, the suffocating air quality has compelled the Delhi government to extend the closure of primary schools until November 10. Furthermore, online learning has been recommended for other educational classes.
On Sunday, the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi recorded a staggering 460. An AQI reading in the range of 0-50 is considered good, while anything between 400-500 is harmful to the health of both the general population and poses a grave threat to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.
Hathurusinghe informed reporters at the Arun Jaitley Stadium that their team’s doctor is closely monitoring the players’ well-being. Some members of the squad, who suffer from asthma, opted to skip practice altogether and remained indoors.
“Even during practice, we are extremely cautious. We focus on the essential training, and then players retreat to the dressing room. They avoid outdoor exposure unless they are actively involved in bowling or batting,” stated the Sri Lankan coach.
In light of the deteriorating air quality, the Indian cricket board has imposed a ban on the use of fireworks during post-match celebrations. Their aspiration is for Monday’s match, the final one to be held in Delhi, to conclude without any adverse incidents.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), the governing body of cricket, is actively monitoring the situation in New Delhi. While acknowledging that the conditions are far from ideal, Hathurusinghe noted that the teams have little choice but to compete under the prevailing circumstances.
The fast bowlers, in particular, are expected to face significant challenges in delivering their best performance. However, Hathurusinghe rejected the notion that the air quality would dictate Bangladesh’s team composition.
“The selection of the team will not hinge on air quality but will be determined by the conditions, the opposition, and our strengths,” he affirmed.
When questioned about his opinion on whether Delhi was an appropriate venue for cricket matches at this time of the year, Hathurusinghe tactfully avoided delivering a conclusive judgment, emphasizing that he lacked the necessary qualifications to do so. Instead, he redirected the focus towards the impending task for Bangladesh, underlining their aspirations to secure a place in the 2025 Champions Trophy, hosted in Pakistan. Currently ranked ninth in the points table, they are earnestly aiming to attain a higher position to realize this objective.